Former Sydney Trains senior tech executive, Nicola Dorling, has joined the University of New South Wales as its digital strategy director.
Dorling is reporting to UNSW’s chief digital officer Daniel Beecham, the former Woolworths CIO who joined the university in September last year.
In 2016, Kate Carruthers was hired as chief data officer amid a restructure which saw the university remove the CIO and senior ICT change program director roles. Michael Kirby-Lewis, who had been CIO at UNSW since July 2007, and Denise Black, the university’s ICT change program director both left the university.
Former chief digital officer, Conrad Mackenzie also left last July after one year in the role. Mackenzie has been chief digital officer at the NSW Business Chamber since September last year.
Speaking to CIO Australia, Dorling said her focus is to support the development of the digital strategy that improves on digital elements that are part of a UNSW’s 2025 Strategy – published in October 2015 – which positions UNSW as Australia’s global university.
Dorling has extensive experience in building technology and digital programs. While a senior manager at EY, she supported the writing of the eHealth NSW ICT Strategy, an experience that she says is relevant to her new role at UNSW.
Dorling said that digital strategies require an understanding of where the organisation wants to be in the future and a clear vision and goals to deliver the strategy – followed by a solid execution plan, noting that digitalisation requires ‘speed to market’.
Like other universities, Dorling expects UNSW to focus on constantly improving the student experience.
“When you think about how the youth work today, you’ve got to be quick and nimble because if you don’t have the services, they [students] will build them for themselves. So, it’s about understanding the customer base and ensuring you’ve got the right solutions for your customers, which is what I always do.”
There are several ways that digital projects can be ‘operationalised’ but what is particularly important is ensuring that technology is solving an existing business problem, said Dorling.
“Using rapid test and learn for potential digital solutions and learning from those tests, allows us to recommend which ones can be implemented and deliver improvements. I have used this methodology many times in my career with successful outcomes,” she said.
“To be successful, you’ll have data to analyse the business problem so you can make recommendations and come up with a solution. But you are always constantly reassessing that data, measuring and undertaking analytical analysis and coming up with some perspectives that will help deliver the best outcomes,” she added.
Dorling was previously technology director at Sydney Trains where she led a team that developed and delivered an enterprise asset management transformation program.
Prior to that, she was a transformation leader at Caltex; senior manager, advisory services strategy at EY; general manager, finance and IT strategy at GrainCorp; and regional strategy and planning manager at British American Tobacco.
Nicola Dorling has recently been appointed the chair of the CIO Executive Council Advisory Board.